Salmonellosis Fact Sheet

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Salmonellosis is an infection of the intestines caused by bacteria called Salmonella

Anyone can get a Salmonella infection

The risk is highest in infants and young children.  However, people of all ages can catch Salmonella.  Illness is usually worse in very young and very old people.

Salmonella bacteria are found in some raw foods and in feces (stool)

The bacteria can be found in foods such as raw chicken, turkey, beef, pork, other meat, eggs, and unpasteurized milk products.  Infected people and animals, especially reptiles (like iguanas and turtles), ducks, and chickens can also have Salmonella in their feces.  Infected people may spread the bacteria to others through their feces for several weeks or more, even after they feel better.

You can catch Salmonella infections if you:

  • Eat raw or undercooked foods such as meat, poultry, or eggs
  • Eat cooked food that came in contact with contaminated raw food
  • Eat food or drinks contaminated by an infected person
  • Are in close contact with a child or adult who has Salmonella
  • Come in contact with infected animals or their feces

Symptoms to look for may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headache

Symptoms begin in 6 to 72 hours (usually 12 to 36 hours) after exposure to Salmonella.  Symptoms commonly last for 2 to 7 days.  Symptoms can be mild or severe.  Sometimes the blood or other body sites become infected.  Some people can have salmonellosis but have no symptoms at all.

Infections can be prevented

  • Eat thoroughly cooked meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. Using an accurate meat thermometer is the best way to ensure that food is thoroughly cooked.
  • Eat only pasteurized milk and dairy products. 
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Eliminate cross‑contamination from raw foods to cooked ones by thorough washing of cutting boards, utensils, and hands, and by discarding used meat and poultry packages.
  • Wash hands after using the toilet, changing diapers, touching pets, before and after handling food, and before eating.
  • Wash hands after touching animals/pets, animal feces, or items contaminated with animal feces such as bedding, dishes, or swimming/bathing water.
  • Don't use food preparation areas to bathe pets or to wash their dishes, cages, or aquariums.

See your doctor if you have diarrhea or possible salmonellosis

  • Drinking liquids to prevent dehydration is the usual treatment. 
  • Antibiotics and other drugs are not usually recommended.
  • If foodhandlers, health care and child care workers, children in child care, or anyone in the family of such people have salmonellosis, they should contact their local health department to get specific recommendations.